City goes forward with men’s homeless shelter


The Jackson City Council had its monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 2, and the two main things the Council accomplished were electing a new vice-mayor and voting to go forward with the construction of the men’s homeless shelter.

But both measures had contested votes.

The agenda item for the shelter came from Council member Candace Busby, who recommended putting a 30-day delay on the project to give business owners in Downtown Jackson that are a few blocks from the site of the shelter on McCorry Street a chance to have a say in the matter.

The problem was if any of them were at the meeting, none of them signed up to speak at the public comments portion of the meeting.

“Honestly, I expected some of them to be here today to speak to us about the matter,” Busby said when they got to the point to discuss the shelter.

“Did the people you talked to know they’d have the opportunity to speak today about this?” Councilman Richard Donnell asked Busby after a couple minutes of conversation, to which she said yes. “Then I think if they’re not here to discuss delaying it, we need to vote to reject the delay and move on.”

Larry Lowrance, another Council member who has spoken up recently for the business owners, had questions about using City funds for the shelter once it’s built.

Amy McDonald, the director of Tennessee Homeless Solutions, the organization who will run the shelter’s operations, said there’s no plans to use city funds. THS will use its own funding to take care of the day-to-day work, which McDonald estimated would be about $85,000 per year, which comes from federal and state funding and private donations.

“You get that federal funding from a 20-year grant?” Lowrance asked, to which McDonald replied it was one year, each year. “So what happens if that grant disappears?”

“Then my job of making sure the shelter is funded gets a lot more difficult,” McDonald said.

Lowrance said he still has reservations about the shelter because of the fact the City hasn’t figured out how it’s going to fund the shelter yet because they haven’t figured out the $3 million deficit – a lot of which could be pointed at the shelter.

The Council rejected the 30-day delay by a vote of 5-3 with one abstaining. The three “no” votes to the rejection were Busby, Lowrance and J.P. Stovall. Frank McMeen abstained from voting.

In the vote for vice-mayor, incumbent Russ McKelvey nominated Johnny Dodd to be the next vice-mayor. Busby nominated Stovall.

There was a question of if Dodd could be the vice-mayor if he’s also the City Council treasurer. The answer was he couldn’t be, and Dodd resigned from being treasurer. One nomination was thrown out to be the new treasurer, but there was question about whether or not they could make that vote in the same meeting the resignation was made.

Attorney Lewis Cobb said he didn’t know if it was illegal, but he knew for sure that waiting a month would be legal. So they tabled that vote to the August meeting.

When it came time to vote for vice-mayor, Dodd received five “yes” votes and two “no” votes. Stovall received three “yes” votes and a “no.” Dodd is the next vice-mayor.

Here’s a rundown of some of the other decisions made at City Council (all of which were with unanimous or near unanimous with one abstaining):

  • Approved a contract with Chelle’s BBQ Soulfood & More for the operation of a restaurant in the West Tennessee Farmer’s Market in Downtown Jackson
  • Approved the Community Development Annual Action Plan for the upcoming fiscal year
  • Appointed Rev. Ernest Polk to the Jackson Housing Authority Board
  • Appointed Carita Cole to the Housing Commission.
  • Approved the first reading of a plan of service for proposed annexation and zoning by Alexander J.M. Wannamaker III at 1984 Highway 70 East
  • Approved rezoning property at the 480 block of Old Humboldt Road to RS-2 single family residential
  • Approved second reading for ordinance regarding checking on animals by City employees
  • Approved second reading of truck route compliance ordinance
  • Approved second reading of closing an alley between 136 and 146 on Campbell Street
  • Attendance report: All Council members were present for the meeting.

Budget committee: Approving the budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year was not on the agenda for July 2. On Thursday, June 27, the budget committee met and approved taking the money needed for the homeless shelter and moving it into capital, leaving the budget at a deficit of about $700,000 with possible options of borrowing for capital expenses and dipping into fund balance for the general fund. The Council has until Aug. 31 to approve two readings.

Brandon Shields,